Few guitarists boast the legendary status of Led Zeppelin‘s Jimmy Page. His contributions to rock and blues go far beyond the heavy works of his iconic band with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Page was a highly sought after session guitarist from his early teen years and eschewed being in a band for the more lucrative session work.
During the early 60s Jimmy Page would play on an untold number of albums and singles. He would also begin honing his natural production skills in the process. Through the years, fans of British based pop and rock music have unknowingly heard Page’s guitar work on numerous songs by artists big and small. In fact, his impact was staggering in hindsight.
Below are just a handful of the more notable hits to which Page contributed that most fans, even the more knowledgeable ones remain unaware.
“You Really Got Me” (The Kinks): The monster hit from the band’s debut album featured Page on rhythm guitar. He also played acoustic and 12 –string guitar on the album, including handling guitar duties on “Bald Headed Woman” which was the single’s B-side. Page was tapped by producer Shel Talmy for the gig, freeing up Ray Davies from rhythm guitar duties.
“I Can’t Explain” (The Who): Shel Talmy once again tapped Page to play rhythm guitar on The Who classic. Something Who guitarist Pete Townshend has confirmed. In an odd side note, the flipside of this single was The Who’s rendition of “Bald Headed Woman” a traditional song that Talmy was taking credit for.
“It’s Not Unusual” (Tom Jones): Yes, that’s Page playing guitar. Who knew? Now you know.
“With A Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker): Jimmy Page played guitar on half the singer’s legendary debut album, including the title track (a Beatles cover) and a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman”.
“Gloria” (Van Morrison and Them): Page also played on their hits, “Here Comes the Night,” and “Baby Please Don’t Go,”
The Donovan connection:
“Mellow Yellow” (Donovan): Another of the singer’s big hits to include Page. In fact Page had his fingers in dozens of Donovan’s recordings.
“The Hurdy Gurdy Man” (Donovan): Not only did Page play on this song, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones arranged it and played bass, while Zep drummer John Bonham added percussion.
Jones, like Page, was a highly sought after studio musician and arranger. That is how the two connected and formed their lifetime alliance.
When The Yardbirds began dismantling in 1968 and Page began the formation of The New Yardbirds, Jones was his first call to replace outgoing bassist, Chris Dreja. By the time the reworking of The New Yardbirds was done, only Page remained as an official member, and he’d only been in the band for two years. After a month under the new Yardbirds moniker, they became Led Zeppelin and so began the legend.